NEADS Conference 2000 - "Networking, Educating, Advocating: Delivering Success in the New Millennium"

Conference Report

Opening Plenary

Speaker: Jennison Asuncion, Vice-President Internal, NEADS

On behalf of the conference planning committee, the National Educational Association of Disabled Students' (NEADS) Board of Directors, and the NEADS national office, Jennison Asuncion welcomed delegates and officially opened the conference.

Asuncion noted that this has been a particularly exciting and eventful year for NEADS, culminating in 160 people - a record number - registering for this conference. Online registration was offered for the first time and a significant number of people took advantage of it. Asuncion also explained that NEADS had made more of an effort to contact students from outside Canada, resulting in delegates coming from Vermont, Georgia, Russia and Cape Town, South Africa.

Also new in 2000 was a NEADS conference subsidy program. The organization solicited essay applications from across Canada, and offered financial aid for a group of delegates based on the essay responses.

The conference is funded by the Youth Initiatives Program of Human Resources Development Canada, as well as through corporate sponsorship from Bank of Montreal, Braille Jymico, the Delta Ottawa Hotel and Suites, IBM Canada, Scotiabank, the Toronto-Dominion Bank, and VIA Rail.

But Asuncion noted that even with funding, the conference would not have been possible without a dedicated group of organizers. To that end, he thanked members of the planning committee for working over the past two years to make the event a reality. He also thanked Frank Smith, NEADS' national co-ordinator, who spent many hours speaking with delegates and helping people make arrangements to get to Ottawa.

Asuncion then highlighted some of the more interesting aspects of the conference, such as the exhibitor displays of adaptive technology and services, the Annual General Meeting which will provide an opportunity to see NEADS in action, and elections to the 2000-01 NEADS Board of Directors.

Finally, Asuncion pointed out the importance of the workshops, which will be a key part of the weekend. He said that in light of the theme of the conference, "Networking, Educating, Advocating: Delivering Success in the New Millennium," delegates should take advantage of the workshops as a chance to get to know each other, to network, and to interact with people who share similar challenges and experiences.